Wednesday, July 13, 2005

We are rich compared to the past

Having finished Accelerando I have been thinking a lot lately about how wealthy we are compared to previous generations. This is a consistent theme in the Progress paradox and I want to point out how clear demonstrations of this effect are available all around you.

Case in point is the all in one video game boxes. These are items that contain all (maybe 7) of the video games that were on the Ataris of the early eighties in one single box. The exciting thing is that the box only costs ~$40 but contains what was once hundreds of dollars worth of games. Not only that, $40 in 2005 is worth less than $40 20 years ago so inflation boosts the discrepancy. These days many more kids that couldn't have afforded the games in the eighties can now have all of them.

However, one interesting and piercing point of Accelerando is that the rate of progress makes it so that if a kid today only had the "Atari in a box" video game we would think that they were disadvantaged. The middle and upper class have X-Boxes or PSP's or multiple game systems. Progress is that more people today have a standard of living that is better than 20 years ago, the middle has been lifted not just the top. That is good for everybody. The acceleration of technology though, always ensures that there is a next big thing. In the coming weeks I will continue to point out this acceleration.

I have been patiently waiting for the future all of my life. I have started to notice that some of it has started to arrive.

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